October 5, 2014 – LWML Sunday Text: Ephesians 5:1-9
Dear Friends in Christ,
Educators have done studies on how children spend their days at school – how many minutes spent reading at their desks, how many minutes spent going to the restroom or the drinking fountain, how many minutes sharpening their pencils and so on. Down to the minute. Down to a science. Blocks of time devoted to all sorts of things you’d expect children to do in school. Plus at least one activity we might not expect: “walking with no purpose.” That’s right: “walking with no purpose.” Studies have found that in a normal day, a very normal child will spend a certain number of minutes walking from here to there for no good reason. Curious and interesting.
We are children of God, and our lives as Christians are often described as a walk, as St. Paul does in our text today, our Epistle from Ephesians 5. Are we walking with no purpose? Paul exhorts us in our text to be . . .
“WALKING WITH PURPOSE”
The fact is it’s not just schoolchildren who walk with no purpose. People of all ages, spend their lives walking through life not really knowing what it is all about. Paul calls this darkness in our text. “For at one time, you were darkness.” (v. 8a)
We live in a world of darkness. People are entangled and enslaved by sin. We can try to redefine it, excuse it, redecorate it, or hide it, but sin is at the bottom of what makes life and relationships difficult, hurtful, sick, and dying. Trying to hide this darkness just brings about “deception” and “empty words.” These things serve no purpose. Paul lists some of them: filthiness, crude joking, foolish talk, sexually impure, covetous. These are all common in the world around us. So common, but they serve no purpose.
Sin can do that. Because of sin, we use God’s name only to condemn others or justify ourselves. Because of sin, we ignore or despise God’s Word and do not worship him. Because of sin, our relationships with others – father and mother, husband and wife, parent and child, enemies and friends, co-workers and strangers – all these are disrupted and destroyed. And none of these actions serve any meaningful purpose. By nature, we are children of darkness with no purpose.
Because we cannot free ourselves from this darkness, God in his mercy determined to save us. His mercy shone like a beacon of light when he promised Adam and Eve a Savior from sin. This light of salvation burned as hope in God’s people through the centuries until that light exploded like a supernova over Bethlehem when “the Word became flesh.” (John 1:14) When life and death went at each other on the cross it looked like darkness was winning. But the light of salvation could not be put out. It was stronger than the darkness. The reign of death was ended.
Suddenly, we see things in a whole new way. We see God for who he really is: not distant or disinterested in our lives, but he is here, present, eager to have a relationship with each one of us. That is what Jesus lets us see in his light. God is not angry and keeping score on how well we keep his Commandments, but forgiving, not counting our sins against us, because Jesus took them upon himself on the cross. That is what we see as children of light. “Now you are light in the Lord.”
As “light in the Lord” we are now able to “walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.)” (vs. 8b-9) We now have a purpose. We walk in repentance and faith. We walk in forgiveness. We walk with a purpose to invite the world to the glorious light of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Today is Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Sunday. Lutheran women who also walk with a purpose. These daughters of Zion and many others in our congregation give pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollars in the interest of missions. Combine ours with the rest of Synod and some wonderful mission projects are funded. Walking with purpose.
When we all with faithful obedience, study the Word of God, when we dwell together in unity, when we faithfully hold the confession of the church in this perverse generation, when we speak faith, when we love one another, fragrant offerings and sacrifices rise up to the nostrils of our merciful, holy, and gracious God and Father. Walking with purpose.
Every work of the saints of God from quilt sewing to helping with a funeral dinner all serves a purpose for the greater good of Christianity. Christ’s kingdom is extended in these works of mercy.
May the Holy Spirit lead you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Walking in the light of Christ is to walk as children of God with purpose.